Superman 1939 Working Class Hero by Manuel Loza
The Evil Superfriends meet the Mirror, Mirror Universe by Xum Yukinori
Batman always gets the best lines.
“Mine are bigger than yours.”
From the JLU episode ‘Ultimatum’ , written by Dwayne McDuffie
Superman by Garry Brown
Tonight’s warm-up doodle, a man like unto a thing of steel.
In general, I’ve been trying to avoid posting or caring or even talking about the new 52 comics because quite frankly, with rare exceptions, I do not enjoy them. I’ve made a choice to not give the company my money because I don’t support their choices and I’m happy with making that choice.
That said, out of sheer curiousity (because I’m a masochist), I do occassionally see scans or read downloads because I don’t like to be ignorant and if I’m going to have an opinion on something I want it to be an informed opinion. In general, this hasn’t been a very big deal. I don’t like most of what I read but I’ve become so disconnected from it all that it’s usually easy to just laugh it off as opposed to getting angry. Life is short and, at this point, our anger and rage is useless. Money talks and the best message I can send as a buyer and as a woman in the genre is to only spend money on products and books that I feel treat women well.
But ok. I did see something today that requires a brief rant. And the funny thing is that this rant isn’t even coming from a place of rage (like it would have 6 months ago) but more a place of, “Seriously?” It’s just pure exhaustion at this point and apathy.
SPOILERS AHEAD FOR SUPERMAN #20
I’m not going to get into a whole synopsis of the issue because I didn’t think it was a very good issue. The dialogue feels completely out of character to me and I continue to loathe the way Wonder Woman is being treated in this entire equation. Nothing new there. Nothing noteworthy there. This is an ongoing problem with this book, this new relationship and Diana’s ongoing treatment at DC. Not earth shattering.
What bugged me more is that apparently it’s totally cool now in the new 52 to have Superman—-SUPER-MAN—-threaten to hurt someone so badly that they will be in intensive care drinking out of a straw. Clark Kent. Actually said these words. To Orion. Is Orion a dick? Of course he is. But this is unacceptable dialogue to be putting in the mouth of Superman. Particularly when…oh yeah…there was literally NOTHING at stake here. The entire confrontation was avoidable. The damage done to property was avoidable. No one’s life was at risk. There were no innocent lives dangling in the fold. This was just flat out Clark…trash talking like a dudebro or something? It was disgusting.
You know, less than 3 years ago, there was an out and out controversy in Smallville fandom when the episode “Disciple” aired. I’ve gone ahead and linked the scene that caused such a reaction above.
In the scene in question, Clark confronts Zod because it has come to his attention that Zod visited Lois while she was in the hospital (and therefore, extremely vulnerable) and attempted to manipulate her. Zod also gave her a gift—a Rao charm to wear as a bracelet. Zod deceived Lois and pretended to be a friend from Clark’s childhood. Lois seemed suspicious of him but that wasn’t really the point. The point was that Zod’s intent was to deceive and for the message to get back to Clark that he would go out of his way to target the person he loved if he didn’t give him what he wanted which was POWER. Mind you, the audience knows FULL WELL at this point that Zod is a killer. He beheaded someone in the 3rd episode. We’ve seen a future timeline where he enslaved the whole human race and wanted to execute both Lois and Clark together in a double execution. We know that this guy is BAD. So his implication to Clark through his actions that he was willing to use Lois to send a message was actually quite serious.
At the end of a very tense conversation where it becomes MORE than clear that Zod is going to continue to play games, Clark tells him in a moment of quiet anc controlled rage that “You go near Lois again—-I will destroy you all.”
The fandom erupted. Did Superman just threaten to kill all the Kandorians? Superman doesn’t do that! And, of course, alot of reasonable people came to Clark’s defense. His actions made sense.
1.) No, Clark was not going to kill anyone. His actions supported that he had gone out of his way to try and resolve the conflict with Zod as peacefully as possible up until that point and, in fact, it was ONLY when he was pushed to the brink of NO OTHER OPTION that he actually used his fists. (Btw, I fully suspect that Henry Cavill’s Superman will do the same this summer. I expect a huge fistfight ONLY after Superman tries to resolve is peacefully and it’s made beyond clear that he can’t.)
2.) This was ZOD. ZOD. He is a villain with brand recognition evil which should be more than clear to ANYONE who watched that trailer that dropped for Man of Steel last night. Thanks, in great part, to the legacy of Terrence Stamp, we see General Zod and we know that this is a serious threat. Perhaps Superman’s most SERIOUS physical threat. Zod isn’t just a jerk. He’s not just a dick. He’s a killer. We saw him behead someone in the 3rd episode. We had already seen a future timeline where he attempted to execute Lois and Clark TOGETHER. The audience knew and understood that Superman had no choice but to take a firm stance and stand up tall and refuse to back down to this man.
3.) There was actually something at stake. REAL STAKES. Lois’s life and safety…yes. But not just her life. The life of EVERY human on the planet if and when Zod found a way to get control of the Kryptonian superpowers he believed he was entitled to. He had an ARMY OF KRYPTONIANS. Again…watch the trailer for Man of Steel from last night. AN ARMY OF KRYPTONIANS. There were real stakes here. Actual stakes. The lives of innocent people. And yes, one of those people was the woman Clark loved.
4.) Clark’s actual words were not that he was going to inflict physical violence. He said he would “destroy” them all. And he did. In his OWN way. Not through threatening physical violence. No, instead he found a way to win over the other Kandorians and exposing Zod as the tyrant that he was. He worked hard and found a way to lead them to a better place where they could live in peace and start a new life for themselves. He was willing to risk his own life and his own happiness to do what was right for them.
Clark’s “destruction” of Zod was actually the sacrifice of his own life. If you have seen Smallville “Salvation” then you know that what Clark actually chose to do was take a KNIFE into his own stomach and sacrifice himself in order to defeat Zod and make sure he couldn’t remain on Earth to kill innocent people. (Spoiler alert: Lois finds him bleeding out on the street and saves his life.)
My point of all this is….barely 3 years ago…it was so SHOCKING to people to hear SUPERMAN threaten to “destroy” a group of people that there were actual debates that took place about it. Intelligent debates. Thoughtful debates. Informed debates pointing out other instances in comics canon and in previous live action media where Clark had been pushed to make a similar threat under the most dire circumstances.
But I can guarantee you that NEVER ONCE in that debate did it occur to any of these smart, thoughtful people that it would be acceptable for Superman to threaten to beat someone so badly that they would be in “intensive care drinking out of a straw.” Especially when there was absolutely no reason for it. It was totally and completely un-warranted. I don’t know who this guy is in the current Superman title wearing the S shield…but it’s not Clark Kent.
Barely 3 1/2 years ago. Man, how times have changed. And you know what? Not all change is good or fresh or any of those stupid buzz words that DC loves to throw out. This isn’t “new” or “fresh.” This is a 75 year old cultural icon predicated on the idea that there might be a man out there who is truly “super” and who truly can help lead us and inspire us with his compassion and honor. And that “super” man is not in the current pages of this book.
I’d like to add that hurting Lois was always a red flag for Clark. Even in LnC, which had the sweetest and most gentle Clark, he once threatened to kill someone if they went after Lois (I think it was one of the s4 Tempus episodes).
The thing is: Clark has a line he never crosses. He only thinks about it when Lois is involved - which makes it so important that there actually is a line.
Yes, you are correct. He has threatend to kill for Lois before. I also think the comics went out of their way to show that he would never actually kill in her name because it would be, without question, the most disrespectful thing he could do. He tells Manchester Black point blank in the comics that he would never “Dishonor” his wife like that. He viewed killing for her as complete dishonor. (I’m obviously pretending that the abomination that is Injustice: Gods Among Us doesn’t exist right now.)
But I have NEVER in all my years of being a Superman fan watched a Superman in any medium physically describe the ways in which he was going to pummel another dude in such vivid detail. Particularly when there is absolutely NO CONTEXT for it. None.
And you know, the key for ME is that these threats were never detailed because no one actually believed that Clark had it in him to physically, purposefully hurt someone. The threats were made out of terror and fear and controlled rage but they were LAST RESORTS. Clark Kent is not the kind of man who sits there and thinks of detailed ways he’s going to physically hurt someone. That’s WHY the threats above are vague. Because it’s HARD for him to say that. They weren’t just, “Man, I’m fighting this dude and I really need to send a message to I’m gonna tell him how I’m gonna put him in intensive care.” WTF????
More and more, it seems as if the people writing the heroes I love have no real idea of who those heroes are.
Kneel before Zod!
Superman and Lois Lane by Leo Espinosa
Man of Steel pin-up by Julian Lopez